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GORDON HENDERSON MP

FOR SITTINGBOURNE & SHEPPEY

Press Release: 05.04.09

5th April 2009

Islanders lobby Cameron envoy

Struggling companies from both ends of Sheppey were able this week to lobby the man charged by David Cameron with drafting the Conservative manifesto for coastal towns at the next General Election.

Mark Simmonds MP, who himself represents a coastal constituency (Boston & Skegness), met representatives of companies who operate from Sheerness Docks hit hard by the Government’s decision to levy retrospective business rates following the rating revaluation of statutory docks and harbours.

Mr Simmonds was accompanied by Tory Parliamentary Candidate and Kent County Council candidate for Sheerness, Cllr Ken Pugh. Later in the day they visited Merlins in Leysdown, where they met with local traders and businessmen.

Mr Henderson said:

‘I feel this was a very successful visit. It was obvious that Mark Simmonds was really clued up about the kind of problems facing coastal towns, particularly the difficulties being faced by communities that rely on tourism.

‘Mark was keen to learn what measures a future Conservative government could introduce that would help traders in Eastern Sheppey get through the recession. Unsurprisingly, the unanimous view was that steps should be taken to bring more flexibility into the current occupancy rules for chalet and caravan parks.

‘Currently, parks at the east end of the Island can only open for eight months of the year, and local traders would like to see occupancy extended to at least ten months. That is certainly a policy that I could support, because I have long believed that the present rules are perverse and illogical. Mark was very sympathetic and I very much hope he will be able to include in the manifesto a pledge to look at ways of bringing more flexibility into the system.

‘Mark was also very sympathetic about the real difficulty facing the firms operating in the Port of Sheerness who have been hit by retrospective rates increases.

‘I am very concerned that unless something is done to help our local businesses we will see even more redundancies in dock related employment, so I was delighted that Mark assured us that he and his Conservative parliamentary colleagues are campaigning hard for the Government’s decision to be overturned.’

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